Academic journal article Military Review

Semmes: Rebel Raider

Academic journal article Military Review

Semmes: Rebel Raider

Article excerpt

SEMMES: REBEL RAIDER, John M. Taylor, Potomac Books, Dulles, VA, 2005, 124 pages, $19.95.

John Taylor, son of General Maxwell Taylor, has written a delightful short biography about one of the most successful Confederate commerce raiders, Admiral Raphael Semmes. Semmes, although a Marylander, adopted Alabama as his home state. When Alabama seceded, Semmes resigned his commission with the U.S. Navy and reported for duty with the newly selected Confederate president.

Semmes quickly outfitted a commerce raider, the CSS Sumter, and headed to the Caribbean. Following the custom of the time, he did not destroy the captured vessels, but took them to a neutral port to ransom them back to their owners. The ransoms were never honored, so the captured vessels were destroyed. After capturing 18 U.S. vessels, the Sumter put into port at Gibraltar for repairs and never sailed again.

Semmes took command of the British-built ship CSS Alabama, and from August 1862 to June 1864 captured or destroyed 64 U. …

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